Can Tylenol kill you? Oh yes. And sometimes faster than other medications or substances that seem more hazardous. Although an effective pain reliever, a number of people don’t realize how dangerous an overdose of Tylenol can be.
During 2000-2010, 1,567 Americans reportedly died after accidentally taking too much acetaminophen. Another 1,400 committed suicide in this manner. Currently, more than 600 medications are available in the United States which contain acetaminophen.
According to the National Institutes for Health, around 78,000 Americans enter an emergency room every year due to acetaminophen poisoning. This results in 33,000 hospitalizations. In fact, acetaminophen, not alcohol, is the nation’s #1 cause of acute liver failure.
And of course, I’m not just speaking of Tylenol specifically, but acetaminophen. It can do one heck of a number on your liver. And if you are taking it with alcohol, that is probably the worse thing you could do.
The recommended daily allowance of acetaminophen is 4000 mg in a 24-hour period. That’s the equivalent of two extra strength Tylenol taken 4 times per day.
One of the reasons why people overdose on acetaminophen is because it is so commonly added to other medicines. Very often, people who are sick or in pain do not realize exactly how much acetaminophen they are actually consuming.
For example, it can also be found in antacid concentrations, allergy medication, opioid drugs (such as Norco and Percocet), cough syrup, sleeping pills and any number of combinations.
Serious liver damage can occur with a Tylenol overdose. If the damage is bad enough, it may require a transplant. The alternative would be death.
The liver is the primary organ which metabolizes Tylenol. When too much Tylenol hits the liver, it impairs functioning. If the liver is already impaired by illness or substance abuse, this lowers the threshold for acetaminophen metabolization even further. For this reason, heavy drinkers should avoid using Tylenol.
An overdose of acetaminophen generally creeps up on people, which is another reason why timing is so imperative when it comes to getting treatment. It may take a day or more for the person to start experiencing noticeable effects. Then the following may begin:
- Nausea and Vomiting
- General feeling of malaise
- Decreased appetite
- Stomach pain
- Dark-colored urine or decreased urination
- Skin and eyes turn yellow (jaundice)
If you have ignored these symptoms for a few days, you may also suffer from:
- Bloody urine
- Lightheadedness and fainting
- Increased respiration or breathing difficulties
- Extreme weakness and lethargy
- Blurred vision
- Tachycardia (Rapid heart rate)
- Ongoing headache
- Difficulty maintaining wakefulness, alertness
- Severe abdominal pain, especially in upper right side
If you suspect you have taken an overdose, you need to call a poison control center or visit an emergency room as soon as possible. This is even more critical if you begin to have symptoms. If someone overdoses in your care and is unconscious, call 911.
Treatment for Substance Abuse
Addiction can be a life-threatening disease most effectively treated by mental health and medical providers in a clinical setting. Our staff includes addiction professionals and other healthcare personnel trained to develop and facilitate individualized programs that treat the symptoms of substance abuse, addiction, and withdrawal.
Treatment typically begins in our medical detox center, where the individual is supervised 24 hours a day for several days. During this time, pharmaceuticals may be administered to relieve many of the worst symptoms of withdrawal.
Following detox, patients are urged to enter one of our long-term treatment programs, which include residential and partial hospitalization formats. Both types of programs feature behavioral therapy, individual and family counseling, holistic practices such as meditation and yoga, and participation in 12-step group support programs.
If you or your loved one is suffering from addiction, we encourage you to seek help as soon as possible. Call us today and discover how we help those who need it most overcome active addiction and foster the happy, drug-free lives they deserve!